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Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that autism is caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Early intervention can improve outcomes and is highly recommended.

Typically, autism affects individuals in five key areas:

  • Communication (verbal and non-verbal)

  • Social skills

  • Behaviors

  • Learning

  • Medical issues

Common Autism Traits:

People diagnosed with autism process, respond, and interact with information in different ways. In some cases, individuals with autism may not be able to speak, may have self stimulatory behaviors (such as hand flapping, vocal utterances, repetitive behaviors), may be aggressive or be self-injurious. Each individual with autism is effected differently. But like with all people - not all individuals with autism are alike. In fact, very few people with autism have the exact same issues. Very few individuals with autism are affected with all the issues specified below. 

Some autism traits could include:

  • Scatter/splinter skills of abilities –

    • such as poor gross motor or fine motor skills and the ability to read at a very young age

  • Oversensitive or under sensitive to pain

  • Desire for the same daily schedule, toys, type of clothes or an insistent on “sameness”

  • Repeating words, phrases in place of typical language or conversation (This is known as echolalia)

  • Much difficulty expressing needs – they may use pointing, gestures versus words, or tantrums

  • Finding situations funny or laughing at times when it is inappropriate (i.e., laughing at a baby crying.)

  • Activity is noticeably under active or over active

  • Excessive or frequent tantrums

  • Can be aggressive or self injurious

  • Prefers to be alone – may have social skills deficits

  • People with autism can act deaf or be non responsive to verbal cues

  • Odd play such as; spinning objects, or using toys for something besides their intended purpose or using an odd attraction to an item that is inappropriate for age

  • Non existent or poor eye contact

  • Non responsive to typical teaching methods

  • May respond negatively to crowds or not able to mix well with others

  • Difficulty with holding a conversation

  • May not like hugs, or to be cuddled.

  • Sensitivity to loud noises, tags in clothes, coarse clothing, lights, and smells

  • Frequently uses peripheral vision to track items (e.g., rolling car along countertop at eye-level)

  • Highly self-limited diet (narrow down foods they’ll eat to a very limited few items when previously a broader range was accepted e.g., bread, chicken nuggets, cheese, milk, and crackers – period.)

  • A high amount of severe food allergies

  • History of chronic ear infections as an infant

  • Severe gastro-intestinal issues; chronic loose and/or foul-smelling stools.

  • Lack of imaginative play or imitation.


Many of the above traits can occur in neurotypical individuals as well. However, the more symptoms from this list that apply (at least eight or more,) the possibility of autism might be considered and discussed with your doctor or a qualified specialist.